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T10 format could be vehicle for cricket’s return to Olympics, as ICC step up interest

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ECB. BCCI accept benefits of global exposure after initial resistance to Olympic involvement

Cricket’s return to the Olympics is moving closer, with the possibility that it could do so in the T10 format. That has emerged in the wake of the ICC’s scheduling meetings for a new calendar from 2023 onwards, which took place last week, with the BCCI and ECB, two key boards in any push, showing renewed commitment to exploring ways to make it happen.

Both the ECB and the BCCI have historically had reservations about the sport’s involvement in the tournament. However, Tom Harrison, the ECB’s chief executive, is understood to have raised the subject in last week’s meetings of the ICC’s chief executives’ committee, which was centred on agreeing the international calendar from 2023 to 2031. The idea was generally well received.

The ICC meeting was followed by a meeting of the Apex Council of the BCCI, which also gave conditional support to cricket’s inclusion in the Games. The BCCI have long been unconvinced by their need for involvement in the Olympics and were reluctant to cede any authority of the sport to the Indian Olympic Association. At this stage, they appear confident their power will not be diluted. The BCCI have also confirmed they will send a women’s team to the Commonwealth Games in Birmingham in 2022.

While the Olympic format has yet to be decided – the chief executives’ committee meets again in a couple of weeks and are likely to set up a working party to explore the options – there is growing support for the T10 version.

With the entire tournament needing to be squeezed into a window of around 10 days, and a desire to use the event to spread the growth of the game globally, the shorter format would allow more teams to compete and necessitate the use of fewer pitches. A T10 game typically takes around 90 minutes. One CEO involved in the meeting suggested it was “inevitable” the ECB would suggest using the 100-ball format.



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Struggling South Australia poach Brendan Doggett among host of changes

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Head coach Jason Gillespie says the new-look side will “focus on results” after four consecutive seasons at the bottom of the first-class standings

South Australia have poached the dual Sheffield Shield-winning fast bowler Brendan Doggett from Queensland among a raft of interstate additions to their squad. According to head coach Jason Gillespie, the new-look side will have a “focus on results” after four consecutive seasons at the bottom of the first-class standings and no victories at all in any competitions last season.

The recruitment of Doggett, alongside the additions of Nathan McSweeney (also from Queensland), Jake Carder (Western Australia), the Sydney Thunder’s Nathan McAndrew (New South Wales) and contract upgrades for Ryan Gibson (NSW), Samuel Kerber (Victoria) and rookie Jordan Buckingham (Victoria), marks a major departure from recent seasons in which the Redbacks tried unsuccessfully to build a home-grown team.

The failing fortunes of South Australia have been a talking point across the national system and were last year the subject of an independent review by Michael Hussey that panned a culture of mediocrity and conflicts of interest within the state’s high-performance wing.

Hussey’s review had included the following recommendations: “Identify and try to recruit the best young talent around the country (former Australia U-19 players not contracted) and engage them through Premier Cricket making them earn opportunities at the next level. Identify quality players from interstate with first-class experience to fill holes in the current list or holes that will develop in the near future. Target the best 10th to 15th players from other states.”

South Australia had already parted ways with Will Bosisto, Tom Cooper, Brad Davis, Conor McInerney, Luke Robins and Cameron Valente – all delisted – while Callum Ferguson and Chadd Sayers retired during the season after long careers with the Redbacks.

“We are extremely delighted with the additions we’ve been able to make to freshen up our squad, and we’re optimistic for an improved 2021-22 season,” Gillespie said.

“We have added considerable depth and increased our pace stocks, namely with Brendan who is a two-time Sheffield Shield champion, and we welcome each new player and look forward to the beginning of pre-season. We’ve shaped this new-look team with a focus on results, and we are confident that this rejuvenated list can take this proud state forward.”

South Australia contract list: Wes Agar, Alex Carey, Jake Carder, Brendan Doggett, Daniel Drew, Ryan Gibson, David Grant, Travis Head, Henry Hunt, Samuel Kerber, Jake Lehmann, Nathan McAndrew, Nathan McSweeney, Joe Mennie, Harry Nielsen, Tim Oakley, Lloyd Pope, Kane Richardson, Liam Scott, Jake Weatherald, Nick Winter, Daniel Worrall
Rookie contracts: Jordan Buckingham, Bailey Capel, Kyle Brazell, Corey Kelly, Thomas Kelly

Daniel Brettig is an assistant editor at ESPNcricinfo. @danbrettig



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Cricketers around the world express solidarity with Palestine after civilian casualties rise

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As the death toll in Gaza following Israeli air strikes escalated, cricketers around the world made their voices heard

Cricketers from around the world have expressed support and solidarity with the people of Palestine, with the death toll from Israeli airstrikes in Gaza rising sharply over the past few days. Several of the dead are civilians, including at least 13 children.

The violence began on Monday when the Israeli military entered the Al Aqsa mosque, one of the holiest sites in Islam, in the final days of Ramadan, the holy month for Muslims.

Several members of the Pakistan cricket team, led by captain Babar Azam posted messages on Twitter, with a running theme of prayers for the Palestinian people, imploring the world to “stand up for humanity”. Shan Masood, Azhar Ali and Shadab Khan were among the other Pakistanis who expressed solidarity.

The messages of goodwill weren’t limited to Pakistani cricketers. Afghanistan legspinner Rashid Khan called it “no crime more heinous than the killing of a child”. Hashim Amla, in a lengthy Instagram post, drew comparisons to Nelson Mandela’s struggle against apartheid, reminding people of Mandela’s unstinting support for the people of Palestine throughout his life. Mandela had said South Africa’s struggle was “incomplete without the freedom of the Palestinians”.

Tabraiz Shamsi, Daren Sammy and Kagiso Rabada also posted messages on Twitter praying for Palestine, while former India all-rounder Irfan Pathan said one “only needed to be human” to support their cause. George Linde condemned the “terrible scenes” while England bowler Saqib Mahmood asked people not to turn a blind eye, using the hashtag #FreePalestine.

This isn’t the first time cricket has found itself caught up in the issue. In 2014, at the height of an Israeli military operation in Gaza, England allrounder Moeen Ali wore wristbands with slogans reading #FreePalestine and #SaveGaza during a Test match between England and India. The ICC match referee David Boon decided it was a breach of the ICC regulation forbidding cricketers from sending out political messages and asked Moeen to remove the wristbands.





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Qais Ahmad signs Kent deal for T20 Blast, two County Championship games

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Last season’s beaten quarter-finalists lean towards spin-heavy strategy for Blast

Qais Ahmad, the Afghanistan legspinner, has signed for Kent for the whole of T20 Blast and two County Championship fixtures, adding to the burgeoning list of teams he has represented around the world in short-form cricket.

Ahmad, 20, was due to join Gloucestershire as an overseas player last summer but had his contract cancelled on account of the Covid-19 pandemic. As a result, this will be his first stint in county cricket.

He is also due to play for Welsh Fire in the inaugural season of the Hundred, after he was retained ahead of February’s re-draft. As a result, he will stay in the UK after the conclusion of the Blast’s group stage, and is likely to be available for the knockout stages.

The club also signed Mohammad Amir for the second half of the competition last month, while Heino Kuhn is registered as an overseas player after the expiration of Kolpak status. Counties are allowed to register three overseas players simultaneously, but can field a maximum of two in a match.

Ahmad is the fifth Afghanistan player to sign a deal for this year’s Blast, after Rashid Khan (Sussex), Mujeeb Ur Rahman (Middlesex), Mohammad Nabi (Northamptonshire) and Naveen-ul-Haq (Leicestershire). He would not have qualified for a governing body endorsement for his visa but for a change in the ECB’s requirements two years ago.



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